Chemicals in cannabis could fight prostate cancer

By chillinwill · Aug 19, 2009 · ·
  1. chillinwill
    Cells of the cancer stopped multiplying and growing when targeted with cannabinoids, the active ingredient in the drug, a new study shows.

    Researchers believe that the findings could allow them to create drugs to treat the disease containing these chemicals.

    However, they warn that the research does not suggest that using cannabis could have the same effects.

    The drug has also been linked to other health problems including depression and a possible increased risk of lung cancer.

    Dr Lesley Walker, from Cancer Research UK, said: “This is interesting research which opens a new avenue to explore potential drug targets but it is at a very early stage – it absolutely isn’t the case that men might be able to fight prostate cancer by smoking cannabis.”

    She added: “This research suggest that prostate cancer cells might stop growing if they are treated with chemicals found in cannabis but more work needs to be done to explore the potential of the cannabinoids in treatment.”

    Prof Ines Diaz-Laviada, from the University of Alcala in Madrid, who led the study, said: “Our research shows that there are areas on prostate cancer cells which can recognise and talk to chemicals found in cannabis called cannabinoids.

    “These chemicals can stop the division and growth of prostate cancer cells and could become a target for new research into potential drugs to treat prostate cancer.”

    Some prostate cancer cells carry receptors, to which cannabinoids can become attached.

    When they were attached scientists found that the chemicals could stop the cells multiplying, according to the findings, published in the British Journal of Cancer.

    Prostate cancer affects more than 34,000 men in Britain every year, and accounts for one in four of all new cancers diagnosed in men.

    Scientists have previously found that cannabinoids could be useful in helping to relieve the symptoms of a painful bowel condition, inflammatory bowel disease.

    By Kate Devlin
    August 19, 2009

    Share This Article


  1. corvardus
    This is an invaluable discovery, knowing that prostate cancer is inhibited by some component of cannabis will allow an enhanced knowledge of the chemical cascades necessary for the proliferation and propagation of prostate cancer cells.

    Whilst it is unlikely the drugs that are developed from this are going to be anything like a cannabinoid (Structure Activity Relationships are good for patents) it does suggest to me that it is highly likely we have evolved with hemp/cannabis being a necessary component to our diet.

    It is unsurprising considering that hemp contains all 10 essential amino acids (link), contains a ready source of Omega-3 and 6 oils which it turns out, recently, reduces heart attack fatalities by 30%. (link)

    Whilst this research is interesting it got me thinking. It would seem, then, for land based mammals with limited diets access to this plant would convey evolutionary advantages if a species would seek it out whenever it was available. One wonders whether the "high" is a specific reinforcement strategy to ensure that, as a species, we would seek it out.

    Naturally the "high" if any were felt evolved to be oral high, and a minor one, but still a reinforcement strategy. Not many species on this planet uses fire to cook their food so it was only a matter of time!

    Legalisation issues aside I am glad that research is still in progress on this, and although heavy use does have its negative unhealthy drawbacks it would seem that moderate to occasional use might be beneficial on a number of levels and for a number of conditions.
  2. Synchronium
    From NewScientist:

    Compounds similar to those found in cannabis have been shown to stop prostate cancer cells from multiplying. Two cannabinoid compounds, JWH-015 and MET, stopped prostate tumour growth in human prostate cells in Petri dishes and also in mice with the disease. They halted the cell-division cycle and killed the cancer cells, and had the greatest effect on aggressive prostate cancer cell types, which do not respond to hormone treatments .
    Some 192,000 men in the US alone are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year, and researchers Inés Díaz-Laviada Marturet at the University of Alcalá, Spain, and her colleagues say the results could offer hope to those affected. But before you go looking for a dealer, New Scientist answers a few questions.
    Does this mean that smoking dope can protect against prostate cancer?
    No. The findings do not imply that smoking cannabis can prevent or treat prostate cancer. Even aside from the harm to health that is associated with dope smoking, the cannabinoid compounds that this study tested are synthetic chemicals not found in cannabis plants, so no conclusions about the actual stuff can be drawn.
    So if I shouldn't smoke cannabis to fight cancer, how can I use cannabinoids?
    The chemicals that have been tested could eventually be used to develop prostate cancer treatments. These treatments would not be the same as cannabis – they would simply contain cannabis-like chemicals as the active ingredients.
    Would cannabis-derived drugs would make patients feel stoned?
    No. No drug developed from these compounds would affect the mind as cannabis use does. There are two types of receptor in the prostate to which cannabinoid compounds can attach. Both types are found in the brain but only one is associated with the psychotropic effects of using cannabis. Díaz-Laviada Marturet's research looked specifically at cannabinoid compounds that attach to the CB2 receptor – the one not associated with psychotropic effects.
    Haven't cannabis chemicals already been found to protect against cancer?
    There is a long list of cancers for which cannabinoids are thought to have a therapeutic benefit. This list includes leukaemia, lung and colon cancer.
    So when will we see cannabis-derived anti-cancer drugs on the market?
    Prostate cancer treatments based on these cannabis chemicals are still a long way from clinical trial. The chemicals tested have been shown to be effective both in cell cultures and in mice, but a lot more needs to be found out about these chemicals before anti-cancer drugs can be developed.
    The Prostate Cancer Charity advises a healthy diet and lifestyle and recommends that as the symptoms of prostate cancer and other prostate problems can be similar, it is important to get a proper diagnosis because other treatments are already available.
  3. nate81
    pretty cool stuff. Even if it is a synthetic cannabinoid it's nice to hear some good news on the cancer front. Cannabis is slowly being seen in a medicinal light again after a few decades of insanity. Hell, if it was good enough for my great grand parents, it's good enough for us.

    My personal prostate cancer prevention method: frequent masturbation. It's a hard life, but cancer never rests and neither shall I.
  4. Synchronium
    Funny to think that only a few days ago the ACMD in the UK proposed an umbrella ban on all cannabinoids since "they have no recognised medical use".
  5. chillinwill
    LONDON - Chemicals in cannabis have been found to stop prostate cancer cells from growing in the laboratory, suggesting that cannabis-based medicines could one day help fight the disease, scientists said Wednesday.
    After working initially with human cancer cell lines, Ines Diaz-Laviada and colleagues from the University of Alcala in Madrid also tested one compound on mice and discovered it produced a significant reduction in tumor growth.

    Their research, published in the British Journal of Cancer, underlines the growing interest in the medical use of active chemicals called cannabinoids, which are found in marijuana.

    Experts, however, stressed that the research was still exploratory and many more years of testing would be needed to work out how to apply the findings to the treatment of cancer in humans.

    "This is interesting research which opens a new avenue to explore potential drug targets but it is at a very early stage," said Lesley Walker, director of cancer information at Cancer Research UK, which owns the journal.

    "It absolutely isn't the case that men might be able to fight prostate cancer by smoking cannabis," she added

    The cannabinoids tested by the Spanish team are thought to work against prostate cancer because they block a receptor, or molecular doorway, on the surface of tumour cells. This stops them from dividing.

    In effect, the cancer cell receptors can recognize and "talk to" chemicals found in cannabis, said Diaz-Laviada.

    "These chemicals can stop the division and growth of prostate cancer cells and could become a target for new research into potential drugs to treat prostate cancer," she said.

    Her team's work with two cannabinoids -- called methanandamide and JWH-015 -- is the first demonstration that such cannabis chemicals prevent cancer cells from multiplying.

    Some drug companies are already exploring the possibilities of cannabinoids in cancer, including British-based cannabis medicine specialist GW Pharmaceuticals.

    It is collaborating with Japan's Otsuka on early-stage research into using cannabis extracts to tackle prostate cancer -- the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men -- as well as breast and brain cancer.

    GW has already developed an under-the-tongue spray called Sativex for the relief of some of the symptoms of multiple sclerosis, which it plans to market in Europe with Bayer and Almirall.

    Other attempts to exploit the cannibinoid system have met with mixed success. Sanofi-Aventis was forced to withdraw its weight-loss drug Acomplia from the market last year because of links to mental disorders.

    By Ben Hirschler
    September 8, 2009
    Ottawa Citizen
To make a comment simply sign up and become a member!